by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Jonah 1:4,5 But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.
It must have been a bad storm. These men were experienced, hardened sailors who had seen it all at sea. If they were scared, this could have been the first "perfect storm" since Noah's flood. So they started the first interfaith prayer meeting in the Bible, each man crying out to his own god. As the ship groaned and creaked in howling wind and massive waves, and the men threw cargo overboard in a desperate attempt to save it, where was Jonah? On deck helping them? Confidently praying to His own God? Shaking with fear and paralyzed with deep conviction? No, he’s taking a nap down below…
How could anyone sleep through a storm like this — especially a prophet of the Most High? I see a few possibilities: one, Jonah was a prophet whose relationship with the Lord was so close he was used to trusting Him through all kinds of difficulties, so he was just abiding in his usual trust. Remember Yeshua (Jesus) also slept during a very bad storm on the Sea of Galilee. Or, maybe the hold of the ship was so deep and Jonah was so tired that he wasn't aware of the grave danger up above; a perfectly natural explanation. And there's one more possibility: Jonah's disobedience made him vulnerable to the enemy. ( For example, I have at times been somehow induced into slumber when I've made a serious decision to spend time in prayer.)
We know for sure the enemy wants us to sleep while the world falls apart around us. His interests are served when we relax in our own eternal security while others are dying in the storms of this world. But Jonah's apathy toward Nineveh morphed into one which actually threatened his own life, without his even being aware of it. He had the authority and capacity to save the others, but the enemy may have poured out on him such a spirit of apathy and deadening slumber that it required the desperate pagans, far more aware of the danger, to rouse the prophet back to his true calling.
Two tornadoes just ripped through a small town in Nebraska. More storms are brewing of every kind; social, economic, political, military. Houses are "burning"; ships are "sinking". Many lives are falling apart. We might be weighed down and paralyzed by it all, or just deeply apathetic because they all deserve judgment while we await the "rapture". But I don't think the Lord wants us to sleep through these storms. At least, not with Jonah's attitude.